EdTech 2010 Session Highlights

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edtech10  I’ve been busy these past few days pulling together all of my notes from this year’s South Carolina EdTech Conference so that I can share the highlights.  I was fortunate to be given professional leave time to attend the conference, and as always I returned refreshed and excited about new tools and ideas to bring back to my school.  Unfortunately not all of the presentations have been posted at the EdTech site yet, but you can click here to see the ones that are available.

In Hallway Hubbub, media specialist Betsy Long explained how her morning news crew is using FLIP cameras to conduct hallway interviews with students and teachers, then remixing them and adding music with either Movie Maker or Animoto

The other video session I attended was Lights, Camera, Action presented by Dennis Duszynski which was full of ways to use video in your school.

Rhonda Edwards shared a collection of eBooks she has written to share the history, geography, and wildlife of South Carolina.  Her website includes extension activities for each of her books.  You can see her presentation info here

I did not get to attend Jeff McCoys session on Free Online Tools and Resources (conflict with another session) but he always has interesting things to share so I made sure to check out his presentation info.

I also sat in on the following four sessions: Web 2.0 Instruction; iPodabilities: Creating iPod Touch Lessons; Twitter for Teachers; and Wikis Glogs, and Gadgets for Empowering Students.  Unfortunately, these presentations are not available at the EdTech site yet.  I’ll have to do more research to see if the presenters have a website, blog, wiki, etc where they may have posted the info.

And finally, how many of you are using Thinkfinity?  There’s nothing posted on the EdTech site by the presenter for this session, but I’ll be doing a separate post on this incredible web resource as a WWW next week, so stay tuned for that!

p.s. By the way, you can view the Keynote speech  and the Awards Presentation online via CloudCaster!

WWW – JMS Technology

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Normally I wouldn’t present a site this full of resources as the WWW (I prefer to dole them out in more manageable chunks, complete with analysis and/or explanation of how to use the tool), but since this is the final WWW for the year I want to leave you with something to keep you going all summer! 

JMS Technology is the place to find every kind of Web 2.0 tool you might possibly need, nicely categorized and annotated, complete with logo icons.  (And you know how I love me some logo icons!)

Decided to store your important documents “in the cloud” in case of a hard drive crash?  Check out the File Storage sites.  Want to experiment with podcasting this summer?  Take a look at the Audio Tools.  Need to add a spark to some tired lesson plans?  The Teacher Resources list includes links to games, lessons, and ideas for every subject.  Or, if none of these float your boat, there are 16 other categories to choose from.

Spend some time exploring here, and you’re guaranteed to find some fun new toys to play with!

Click here to visit the archive of all the WWW sites I’ve shared so far.

May You Live In Interesting Times

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  screen technology

There’s no doubt that there are interesting things going on in education right now with regard to technology!  I think we will all agree that we can’t equip our students with 21st Century Learning Skills without incorporating technology into our teaching.  Serving as both the Library Media Specialist and the Technology Coach for my school, it’s my job to look at the issue of integrating technology into the classroom from four different perspectives:

1. What are “best practices” when it comes to using technology in instruction and with students?  What strategies will enable us to be more effective users of technology?  How can we make time for training, collaboration, and integration in an already crowded school day?

2. What are the technology literacy, media literacy, and information literacy standards that we should be addressing for each grade level?  How do our content standards mesh with these literacy standards?

3. What tools are affordable and available in my school and my district?  How much tech support can I manage at the building level?  How much tech support is available at the district level?

4. How can I ensure teacher and administrator buy-in for technology integration projects?  How can I involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation process?  How can I be an agent for change in my school and my district?

I’m struggling with the answers to all of these questions, particularly the last one.  That’s why I’ll be participating in a free webinar on April 5, 2010 at the TL Virtual Cafe.  The webinar is titled What it Means to Be a Change Agent in Educational Technology, and will feature Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier. 

Rodd Lucier I’m familiar with, since I’ve been following his blog (The Clever Sheep) and listening to his podcast (Teacher 2.0) for the past year and a half.  I’ve never heard of Ben Hazzard until now, but even a cursory glance at his website tells me that he’s someone to watch. 

You’ve probably heard the title of this post referred to as “the Chinese curse,” but you may not realize that it’s supposedly the first in a trio of curses.  The other two curses in the series are, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May you find what you are looking for.”  One can only hope….


Photo Attribution: “Screen Technology”

My Vision For Technology?

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I’m excited about writing this post, because it concerns the EdTech session that was the most thought-provoking for me: Planning a Technology Vision: I Know Where I Want to Be…Now How Do I Get There, by Jeff McCoy, Director of Instructional Technology for Greenville County Schools.  I expected the session to be about technology visions and missions and goals, and in a way it was, but not in the way I thought it would be.  Confusing?  Let me explain.

I am guilty of never having articulated Technology Vision Statement for myself personally or for my library media center.  The closest I’ve come is that I want to be known at my school as the “How to Integrate Technology (and media resources) into the Curriculum” specialist, not the “Change the Laminating Film and Come Hook Up My Printer Cable” specialist.  (And believe me, this is an uphill battle, much more so than I expected when I started this job last year!)  So I guess I thought Jeff was going to do my thinking for me and talk about Technology Visions, and I could just piggyback off of his Dreams for a Technology Utopia.  What he presented was much less mystical, much more practical. 

Jeff is the guy who is responsible for planning and implementing actual technology projects involving hardware, software, ongoing maintenance, budgeting, communicating with board members and administrators, professional development opportunities for users, and ongoing as well as final assessment of success.  Whew!  I feel exhausted just thinking about it.  The project in which he’s currently immersed is putting 5,000 Promethean boards into classrooms, training teachers not only to use them but also to troubleshoot their own technical difficulties (!), and demonstrating that their usage (they have 3,000 boards in place so far) is having a positive effect on student engagement and achievement.  Technology dreams?  Sounds more like a nightmare to me!

So Jeff is all about reality.  He took us step-by-step through how to plan for every aspect of a technology project, no matter how large or small.  He shared his early failures and his current successes with us, giving concrete examples of each.  He outlined each phase of the process, starting with approval from administrators and early buy-in from stakeholders, and ending with plans to continue building on what you originally accomplished.  He even offered some strategies for bringing curriculum zealots and IT nazis together to work in harmony!  Now that does sound like a dream!

If you’d like to learn more, visit Jeff’s website, where he shares his presentations and handouts, his training manuals and tutorials, and some “Cool Websites” that he finds valuable. 

Now, I still need to do my own thinking about technology.  After all, the first part of the session title states, “I Know Where I Want to Be….”  Do I?  I believe it’s time to do some more reflecting on just what it means to be the Technology Integration Specialist at my school, and what steps I can take to accomplish that.  How about you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on how it all fits together.

Style and Substance

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Well, I finally finished tagging all 355 of my bookmarks in Delicious! This was one of those mind-numbing organizational tasks that just has to be done, like sorting your email into folders so you can find that important message from your principal a month from now. But something good actually came of reviewing all the sites I’ve bookmarked up until this point: I reacquainted myself with all the wonderful content that is available on the net. I took a second look at some sites I want to share with my teachers. I dusted off those plans to start a book discussion group with some of my students. And I reminded myself that the content has to drive the technology, not the other way around.

It’s easy to be wowed by all the flashy 2.0 applications that are out there.  It’s easy to get so caught up in exploring all the “cool tools” that I neglect to spend time implementing what I’m learning in my media center program.  And what’s worse, it’s easy to start a project like a blog or a wiki or a podcast and then fail to maintain it.

For example, ever since I learned about Google Book Search in August, I have been using it to keep a list of all the books from the Alice Drive Elementary Library collection that I’ve read since I started teaching at the school last year. It’s linked from my media center webpage so that my students can see what I’m reading and hopefully find something they’d like to check out. I realized today that I haven’t posted any new titles in over a week!  This is partly because lately I’ve spent more time with the computer than with a book, and partly because I just haven’t taken the time to add the books I did read.  Will the kids notice I haven’t added anything new this week?  Probably not. But it’s a slippery slope when you start to let those projects slide.

So I guess this blog post is really more of a reflection on the need to keep my technology priorities straight, rather than a description of my experience with Delicious.  But that’s okay; it’s just part of sharing The View From Here.